Marathon Training

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Marathon Training
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Training Tips

The goal for this training program is to FINISH a marathon.  There are other more aggressive training programs for time performance and many of the links in this website will take you to sites where you can get coaching advice for improving your time.  The 18 week and 30 week schedules are geared to new marathoners attempting this distance for the first time.

The marathon is a distance to be respected.  It's a long time on your feet running.  The Training Tips will give you general guidelines for marathon training.  I've combined tips from a number of sources such as running magazines, websites, and personal experience.  Many of my "warnings" are from personal experience and mistakes I have made over the years. 

Running experts recommend that runners have 2 years of running experience before attempting this distance.  This training program is for runners who have established a minimum five mile base to begin training for their first marathon.  There are tips for NEW runners to get started because I encourage everyone to go out and have fun with this.  I don't look at running as a "workout".  The "work" connotation can make you dread getting out.  I look at running as my "play time" where I get a break from phones and daily demands and do something I enjoy.

The training programs are conservative with a gradual build to two 20 mile training runs with a three week taper to the target race.  The gradual build up with cut back weeks reduce the chance of injury.

The 18 Week Program is from Runner's World and is the program I prefer to use.  Runner's World is a magazine and website full of running tips, nutrition, professional advice and stories, race events and results, and other essential information.  It has been the most useful source of all of my running experience and I have tested and used most of their great advice over the years.

The 30 week program is from Jeff Galloway's Book on Running and is a very easy build up for finishing a marathon.

The crowning glory of all marathons is the Boston Marathon.  It's the oldest and most prominent marathon.  Due to it's popularity, BAA race directors established qualifying times to limit the field.  These qualifying times push you a bit beyond your comfort zone.  Some first time marathoners will run a Boston Qualifier in their first race but MOST WILL NOT.  This can be a future goal.  When talking to most marathoners, you will hear them refer to their times related to "Boston Qualifiers".  Qualifying have been tightened by 10 minutes for each age group since 2000 when I 1st started trying to qualify.  BQ times for 2020 vary based on age and gender:

Age Group Men Women
18-34 3 hrs 00 min 3 hrs 30 min
35-39 3 hrs 05 min 3 hrs 35 min
40-44 3 hrs 10 min 3 hrs 40 min
45-49 3 hrs 20 min 3 hrs 50 min
50-54 3 hrs 25 min 3 hrs 55 min
55-59 3 hrs 35 min 4 hrs 05 min
60-64 3 hrs 50 min 4 hrs 20 min
65-69 4 hrs 05 min 4 hrs 35 min
70-74 4 hrs 20 min 4 hrs 50 min
75-79 4 hrs 35 min 5 hrs 05 min
80 & Over 4 hrs 50 min 5 hrs 20 min

The men's times are pretty aggressive.  I qualified at my 8th marathon.  Each time you do the distance, it gets easier and as you age, the qualifying times relax.  Eventually the two may meet.  Some people never achieve the elusive Boston qualifier.  There are other ways to get into Boston such as courtesy numbers through running clubs or running for charity so if you have your heart set on Boston, you may want to pursue these other options.

Training Tips

18 Week Schedule

30 Week Schedule

Race Pacing Chart

Pace Converters